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Trash-Collection Fees Would Rise in Lower Merion Plan

Recycling disposal has cost more this year, and recycled-paper resale has earned less, officials said.

Projecting a growing budget deficit in its refuse-collection service, Lower Merion's government is preparing to raise rates 9 percent.

The measure will be the subject of an Oct. 17 public hearing and subsequent vote, the Board of Commissioners decided at Wednesday night's meeting. A minimum majority, six of 10 members present, voted to advance the matter to the public hearing.

Chief financial officer Dean Dortone said the township looks to lose $200,000 this year on garbage and recycling collection, with $6.5 million in revenue and $6.7 million in expenses. Without a rate hike, Dortone said, the estimates for 2013 are $6.6 million in revenue and $6.9 million in expenses, which would deplete reserves. (The full slideshow Dortone presented Wednesday night is attached to this article.)

The township collects garbage weekly and recyclables semi-weekly.

The refuse service has since 2010 been expected to pay for itself, and part of its revenue comes from reselling recycled paper. However, that practice has become less lucrative this year—$75 a ton is the going rate, Dortone said, down from $105 in 2011.

On the other side of the ledger, the cost of disposing of commingled recyclables has skyrocketed, Dortone said.

A 9 percent hike means households with one container would pay $277 for the year, up from $254.

Board President Liz Rogan suggested officials start earlier next year in assessing what the rate should be for 2014.

What do you think of the proposed trash-collection rate hike? Do you plan to attend the public hearing in October? Tell us in the comments section below.

kithg September 14, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Is the cost of disposing of separated recyclables less? Would we do better to have a glass bin, a plastics bin, a metals bin, and a paper bin, as many communities do? Is there a way to make more money on what we're throwing away? 9% seems like a lot, and more for some than others.
Wynnewoodie September 14, 2012 at 09:58 PM
The more you separate, the less people recycle. We separate paper from other co-mingled recyclables because the township generates greater revenue from clean paper than from paper that is contaminated with glass.
Ruth Harp September 15, 2012 at 02:26 AM
I am proud of our recycling system and willing to pay more to support it. I wish that it would be pro-rated like the trash system is so that folks who recycle more would pay more!
Mildred Roberts September 15, 2012 at 02:58 AM
It's going to get so expensive that some folks will haul their own trash/recycles to the Woodbine dump themselves once a month. Every price increase probably raises the number of people paying for three and putting out five cans. (The drivers have a list) Plus, the angry "you missed my pickup" calls will likely increase, too, from over-sleepers and absent-minded residents.
Wynnewoodie September 15, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Don't you mean people who recycle more pay less? Don't we want to encourage recycling? Remember, although the township doesn't make money on co-mingled recycling (I don't think), the more material that is diverted from the waste stream the more we save in incinerator/tipping fees.
Josh September 15, 2012 at 02:14 PM
We recycle about everything, And watch the effort get thrown into the regular trash stream. Increase fees- how about enforce the current regulation?
Wynnewoodie September 15, 2012 at 03:18 PM
In Lower Merion? Not that I've ever seen. The township generates about $500,000 per year on recycled paper and saves about $200 - $300k per year on co-mingled recycling because they pay less to get rid of recycled materials than trash. If the township could encourage more people to compost, we could reduce incinerator & tipping fees even more.
Josh September 15, 2012 at 08:18 PM
You are very clued in Wynnewoodie, but mistaken. The comingle is correctly done, the paper is not. You talk composting/ that is not practical, in fact attracts animals and disease if widespread. I know the stats, it looks like a wonderful idea. As do a lot of statistics. But only if we did not live in a city. People forget, we are really a city. The CDC has commented on composting, and disease. In fact, for LM, the disease carrying rodents and mosquitoes that are a fact of all composting piles and most water barrels makes this impossible to implement as a mandate. It is easy to think utopian, we can't do that. You know more than the avg citizen on this matter it seems. Why has LM not vertically integrated out 'trash stream' ? It is ours, we have smart people to run it, and it is possible for LM. We do have the good fortune to issue AAA bonds and in partnership with local, innovative private industry, lead the country managing the trash stream as we did a long time ago as one of the first recycling adopters. Vertical is done in far less wealthy towns, and if done right by us, we can even bring in other towns 'trash' creating a lucrative revenue stream, in fact. Imagine that... No fee increase is needed. This is just people being lazy and not thinking of our long term future (not you, the issue). SO easy to raise fees, but to create a modern infrastructure.... Ha, too hard for most to deal with that...
Wynnewoodie September 16, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by "vertically integrated" trash stream. Do you mean single stream recycling? If that's what you mean, the biggest reason is that the township generates a lot more revenue from clean paper than it can recoup in a contract with a single stream vendor like Waste Management. Are you suggesting that the township set up a processing facility to compete with Waste Management? That would be extremely expensive to set up. I'm not aware of any municipality that does this. We don't live in a city, we live in a suburb. The average property owner in LM has sufficient land to compost correctly and make good use of grey water to enjoy the bounty of their yard. Correct composting (using the receptacles available through the township environmental advisory council) attracts neither vermin nor insects, but diverts lots of material out of the waste stream, which reduces costs, while generating useful compost for the resident. Likewise, standard rain barrels (also available through the EAC) have screens that keep mosquitos out.
Josh September 16, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Hi W. I think the best thing to do is start with a google search. Search 'trash collection, city of San Fran, CA.' Vertical integration is mainly a business term, sincere apologies. I talk shop sometimes but this word has been a part of life for so long most know exactly what it means- in any context. No, I am not at all suggesting we would, could, or should 'compete with' a global leader in trash services. Partnership and innovation is what I said.. Let's not be scared of big business. They need us just as we need them, particularly when it is OUR TRASH thus OUR $! Times have changed. Innovation creates jobs when executed correctly. Once you look up San Fran, go to: www.recology.com This is only one of many examples I could use. Cities large and small. SF just has one of the best known and replicated solutions worldwide. It creates jobs, helps our environment AND makes $$$. Once you look into this, I think your eyes will open. Think outside of this 'sheltered' area- in particular most of us do not have a 'bounty' in our garden- their is more land in our wealthy areas, some homeowners might afford to implement a disease and rodent free solution via underground retention barrels hooked into sprinklers or proper composting bins away from children, structures. Not most of us! This is the 5th largest city in America, LM is not immune, we share infrastructure with Philly (vice versa?) Look into it, your heart is in the correct place

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